Michelle – Aspiring Writer

July 16, 2009

Getting Off the Ground

Filed under: Writing — wordsmusicfood @ 11:25 am
Tags: , , , ,

Have you ever been sitting quietly at your desk at work or at school, minding your own business, when suddenly inspiration hits and the idea for a story starts forming of it’s own accord?  It gets louder and louder and more insistent in that portion of your brain where creativity flourishes until you reach a point where you grab the nearest piece of paper and a pen and just write it down so that you can get back to that daydream you were having about the weekend rendezvous you’ve been planning with your boyfriend.

I have that pretty regularly.  So much so, in fact, that I currently have on my laptop about fifteen different story ideas that I actually think I could work with.  The rest of the ideas have been canned for simple reasons such as being totally implausible, unwriteable, or unappealing.

My problem with my writing has never been coming up with ideas for stories or novels.  My problem has always been follow through.  Writing the story.  Getting the basics and thrashing it out.   Popular novelists all say the same thing:  the secret to writing that book is to write it.  Get that horrible, crappy, disgustingly written first draft out.  From there, everything becomes a piece of cake.  Easy for them to say.  They’ve written a first draft and finished it.  Probably on more than one occasion as well.

What about aspiring writers such as myself who have no clue what they’re even doing when it comes to writing an actual novel?  How are we supposed to get to that point where we are actually able to write a first draft?  How are we supposed to write a first draft when we’re not even entirely sure what sort of route the story is even going to take?

This is where I get stuck, where I hit the block, where the inspiration freezes in terror.  Which is why, this time, I’ve decided I’m not going to worry about writing the first draft just yet.  It sounds daft, I realize this, but hear me out.  I’ve decided that before I even write the story, I’m going to find out what the story is.  I’m going to create my characters and interview them.  The story will, after all, be written around them, so why not let them tell it to me as they develop.

After all, the characters start to develop from the moment the inspiration hits, so why not use their growth and development to build the story?  They may be figments of my imagination, but they always seem to grow a life of their own in any case.  I may as well make the most of it…



  1. Hello Michelle,

    How I know this phenomenon VERY well. I will have ideas fly into my head in motion, sound and vivid colors, like a movie playing through my mind non-stop. Quite often this stream of images will also include its own soundtrack. That’s right–is own musical soundtrack. That adds further dimension to the conception. When something like this happens, I know that I am destined to write it.

    Unfortunately, much of the time these ideas hit in the most inopportune moments, say when I am walking down the street or out eating. When I am at my desk, however, or lying in my bed, I will scribble the idea down in elaborate summary OR jump right into it by opening a Word document and flying through the pages. This process has brought about quite a few short stories and a novel draft from beginning to end (and, yes, it has its own musical soundtrack, as many of my stories do, The songs are even significantly integrated into the plot, if you can believe it). I have been fortunate that way, though I will be the first to say that one has no control over when those ideas hit; they come at their own accord. I don’t see that as problematic, however; I see that as exciting. That’s what it means to be a writer. You understand this.

    As for writing, as the experts say, that’s oh-so true. That shouldn’t intimidate you, though; that should drive you. Don’t worry about the text right off; just get it down. The story develops through revisions.

    Character interviews are an interesting way of pre-developing a story. One cannot write about people unless s/he knows who those people are in the first place. I did this with my novel, Hallowed Halls, and I got through it because I felt confident in the characters and their respective stories. Some writers will simply jump into it and let the characters and their story fall out and develop along the way, which is another viable way to write (after all, life is that way, no?). The wonderful thing is that there are many different approaches. Chances are, you will experiment with many throughout your career and your life.

    In any case, just hang in there. When those ideas hit you, go with them. You will be amazed at what will come out on the page.

    I apologize for my rambling. I found your blog to be very engaging, and I will stay tuned for more…

    If you have time, feel free to check out my blog: http://creatiwriter64.wordpress.com . I look forward to seeing you there.

    Take Care,

    Comment by CW64 — September 8, 2010 @ 11:59 pm | Reply

    • Wow. I haven’t actually updated this blog in a while. Things got crazy, and I pretty much forgot about it.

      I guess I should really start updating more often.

      I have been keeping at the writing though, and the story that I was working on back when I started this blog, is about two thirds of the way through, although it’s sitting in my laptop waiting to be opened after a two week hiatus. My characters and I were fighting each other instead of working together to tell the story, so we’re taking a break.

      Breaks can be healthy, or so I’ve heard.

      Anyway, thank you for your feedback, and I’ll be sure to check out your page as well.

      ~ Michelle

      Comment by wordsmusicfood — September 9, 2010 @ 5:27 pm | Reply

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